An occasional journal of the Life of Reilly

Friday, May 29, 2009

Toronto, ON: Good Luck Times Three

Traveling often involves conditions that are beyond one's control. We have learned that it does not help to become angry or worried or anxious, but rather devote that energy into resourcefulness and problem solving. And even then sometimes, like on our second day out of Niagara Falls, good luck prevailed.


The morning started out with dripping fog. We hate to pack the tent when it is wet – extra weight, you know. But usually we have an opportunity to lay it out at lunch to dry. But not on this day, unfortunately.


Cycling in the fog is reasonable. Gortex is a wonderful thing.


By noon on this day, however, it went from fog to a steady rain. Not as reasonable. We found refuge in the waterfront pavilion in Burlington, deserted on a weekday. Our first lucky break. We wheeled our bikes inside and waited it out. At some point we pulled out the computer and picked up the public wi-fi signal from city hall located a few blocks away. We monitored the weather satellite until the nasty green blob moved out of the area. We also found a motel located down the road 20 kilometers, a distance we hoped to cover before the next blob moved in.

So we are cycling along, and I hear a snap-ping noise, and my rear wheel starts to wobble and rub on the brake. We cycled for a while longer, then pulled into a strip mall to wait out the next downpour. Closer examination of our rear wheel revealed a broken spoke. John's heart sank – he did not have the tools to remove the hub and replace the spoke. We asked a group of locals where the nearest bike shop was – and they pointed across and down the street a half a block. Good luck, round two.


We stayed warm and dry in our hotel as it rained throughout the night, and the next day was dry and fair. After two days of gray weather, people we out walking, jogging, and biking. We were approaching the Toronto skyline, the home of my cousin and our destination for that night. We stopped to check the map, and struck up a conversation with another cyclist out for a morning pedal. Following a friendly exchange of bike tourist stories, I mentioned that my Achilles tendon has been very sore and slowing us down. Se asked if we had any Kinesio tape – no, we had never heard of it. MaryAnn is an occupational therapist and uses it in her practice. She offered to tape me up. We followed her to house, she fixed me up, her husband Romeo fed us homemade soup and gave us a bag of fresh herbs from their garden. Road angels, no doubt, and our third stroke of good luck that carried us the rest of the way to Toronto.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Niagara Falls, ON: Big Water

Yesterday was an impossibly beautifully clear day. It made us forget the headwind blowing in our faces. We were on bike trails all day. And we met our first fellow bike tourists heading the opposite direction. And we saw some really big water.

This is our second time at Niagara Falls. Despite the Memorial Day crowds and the kitch of the surrounding area, it is worth it to see the volume of water that cascades over the Lockport Dolomite on its way to Lake Ontario.


I could sit and watch it all day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Selkirk, ON: Canadian Encounters

Canada is not all that different from the United States. They have their own version of the mega-store where you can wander the aisles for hours without retracing your steps. We found a Real Canadian Superstore in Chatham. A constant stream of customers passed through its doors. Oddly, it was in the same shopping center as a Walmart. Perhaps the difference is opportunity to buy as many maple leaf adorned folding chairs as you want.


We followed the north shore of Lake Erie through rural country, with farmhouses, silos, and asparagus fields. I would take any of the tidy brick or stately wood frame houses we passed if I chose to be a flatlander. No fences seperated the parcels, and the houses were surrounded by the most perfect green grass. Riding lawnmowers appear to be as important as a car around here.

We spent one night in Port Burwell Provincial Park. We had a large campsite secluded in trees. The local Canadian residents consisted of hungry mosquitos that came out at dusk to welcome us. In the fading light a form in the trees circled our campsite. This local waited until we were in bed to inspect our panniers. It was a racoon, and as we lay in our tent we could hear him clawing at the bags. In my half-drowsiness I imagined his impossibly human-like paws unknotting the drawstring and retrieving the computer, surfing the internet, and buying all kinds of bright shiny things on Amazon. John bravely retrieved our bags and stowed them in the tent for the night. We were only awakened a couple of times when he tried to get at them while we slept.

So the next day as we approached the next Provincial Park that as to be our camp for the night, we wondered if they might also have racoons, and perhaps we should store our bags in the tent again. Maybe, we said, we will ask at the office when we check in. We pulled into the driveway and saw the sign below, which answered our question.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Clearville, ON: On the Shore of Lake Erie

We spent a good portion of our second day on the road pushing against a 25 mph oblique wind. But all was forgotten when we arrived at our refuge for the night -- a grassy campsite under an old apple tree in full spring bloom. Rotund black bumblebees were humming amongst the blossoms, intoxicated enough on nectar not to bother us. The sweet aroma was as delicate as the translucent petals that would float down and cover us like snow. The site was steps away from a bluff overlooking the battered shore of the great Lake Erie where we watched the sky go from blue to pink as the day faded from day to dusk.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Winter No More

Bears do it, bees do it, and birds do it. And so do we. After a winter of (virtual) hibernation, we are flying and we are migrating. GoSeeDo has been a bit silent over the past few months, but much like those bears emerging from winter slumber with eyes blinking in the sunlight, we are ravenous and ready for some action. And the blog has a new look, just in time for spring.


Not that it has been an uneventful winter, but rather a cycle of eat, sleep, work, ski that repeated for weeks at a time. Oh, and a little of what those birds and bees do every once in a while, too. Now, regarding that last form of recreation, it seems that some June Lake locals are a bit hardier than others. It was a dry January, no snow all month, and relatively mild temperatures. One night we were awakened shortly before midnight by loud scuffles on the roof directly above our bedroom. I pushed in my earplugs and turned over, but the commotion persisted. John heroically bundled up and armed himself with a large flashlight to see what animal was frolicking about on the roof. He pointed the beam towards the ruckus, and there was the full moon of someone's bare backside. But he was not alone – two legs stuck out on either side of him. John informed them they were directly above our bedroom, certainly ruining the romance of the moment. That must be some mighty strong stuff served at the bar next door. The next morning, John moved the newspaper stand with the footprints on top a bit further away from the fence adjacent to our roof line. So next time if someone asks “hey baby, wanna go up on the roof?”, you can choose to blush and grin like I do.


We left our little mountain world last Saturday, heading due west across the width of California, arriving with truck loaded with bikes and touring gear. It was the hottest day of the year – in the triple digits in the Sacramento Valley, and not too much cooler when we arrived at my sister's house in the Bay Area. Our winter metabolism gushed perspiration in response. Made me wish for those frosty days of winter just a bit, so I included a few winter shots to cool us all off.

John was the man in uniform this winter, working on the paid ski patrol staff at June Mountain, the local ski area a mile from our house. When it snows overnight, he needs to be at work early to do avalanche control work before the ski area opens. More than once we were shoveling our way from the house to the car in the dark of a winter morning. After throwing bombs and securing ropes and making it safe for the customers, and if he is lucky, he gets a glory run in fresh powder. The shot below (copyright, all rights reserved) of my hero was taken by our friend and fellow patroller Dick Erb. My guy smokes on skies.


As I write this we are on a plane, somewhere above the Southern Rockies, on a flight from Oakland to Detroit by way of Nashville. This is the first leg of a bike tour of Eastern Canada. This trip we are web enabled, traveling with a 2-pound “netbook” and wireless card. Expect more GoSeeDo than ever before...stay tuned...

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